It’s kind of a somber week for NFL players and fans, after an unusually injury riddled weekend that ended the seasons of at least two of the league’s super stars. The Texans’ defense is gutted in the wake of losing both J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus for the season, and the Giants literally walked off the field with only one wide receiver who still had both legs intact. Odell Beckham Jr. will spend the rest of the season recovering from surgery as well.
It’s a rough and tumble game, and one that’s not easy on the players’ bodies. That said, I’m good with the fact that the Broncos’ bye week kept them out of the bloodbath this time.
NFL Power Rankings, Week 5:
Last Week: 1 (0)
What looked to be a comfortable win early after a critical injury on the Texans’ defensive line turned into a wild 40 point shootout in the 4th quarter. When the dust settled, Deshaun Watson & company couldn’t do quite enough and the Chiefs were the team still standing.
However, the Texans were able to at least put some cracks in the Chiefs’ seemingly unstoppable rushing attack. Kareem Hunt ran for only 107 yards on 29 carries, for 3.69 yards per carry; the first time the rookie has been held under 4.8 yards per carry in his career. And two 23 yard runs accounted for about 43% of his yardage total, leaving just 61 yards on 27 carries (2.26 yards per carry) for the rest of Hunt’s day.
Last Week: 2 (0)
Bye Week. Whenever possible, teams on their Byes will not move more than a spot or two.
The Chiefs won, so the Broncos don’t budge. Next up? A home game versus the Giants, who are sporting an 0 and 5 record, and a 1 of 5 count of available, uninjured wide receivers. And Eli Manning, who is already dealing with a neck injury and a terrible offensive line, stands squarely atop the pile of people who’d rather not meet Von Miller this week.
Last Week: 4 (+1)
An intense, hard-fought matchup came down to 1:13 left on the clock with the ball, and the game, in the hands of Aaron Rodgers. He proceeded to do Aaron Rodgers things. The Cowboys then proceeded to do crazy, futile hot potato things. Green Bay rises to 4-1, and send the Cowboys below .500
Last Week: 5 (+1)
Atlanta gets a small Bye week bump up because Pittsburgh takes a dive.
Last Week: 9 (+4)
The Eagles got a rousing extra public practice session in this weekend, a rare feature of any Bye week... err. Oh. Nevermind. That was apparently another NFL team on the field with them, who were presumably under the impression that it was a live game. Or, given how it turned out, maybe they weren’t.
Last Week: 8 (+2)
The Patriots arguably don’t deserve the two spot bump up for that win; not this close to the top of the rankings. But the Lions have to get dinged at least a little for their loss and the Steelers don’t deserve top 5 consideration right now. Next up is an away game against the surprisingly feisty Jets. A win over that organization won’t get New England much in the rankings, though, while a loss could see them drop considerably.
Last Week: 6 (-1)
Matthew Stafford tried to mount what might have been a signature comeback, and fell a bit short. It’s a disappointing loss, but to a quality opponent. I think this team is still a likely NFC playoff team and still a threat to the Packers in the NFC North.
Last Week: 14 (+6)
Sometimes you bend down to pick one thing up, only to have something else fall out of your arms when you do. That’s the case for the Panthers, who’ve found their offense over the past two weeks but seem to have misplaced their defense about three weeks ago. If you see it, be sure to let them know. I’m certain they’d be grateful for any word.
That said, the Panthers are finding ways to win against some very impressive opponents. The Patriots and Lions are both tough outs this season, and any team that forces the Patriots to trail both the Jets and Bills in the AFC East deserves our appreciation. Things don’t get much easier with the Eagles, Bucs, and Falcons all standing among the five teams between the Panthers and their Bye week. But so far Carolina is proving that they can hang with the big dogs.
Last Week: 3 (-6)
Let’s review: A narrow victory over a pathetic Browns team. A decisive victory over a Vikings squad reeling from losing their QB. An overtime loss to the lowly Bears. A good win over an overrated Ravens team. And a blowout loss to the Jaguars, featuring a 5 interception game for Big Ben.
In power rankings, an organizational reputation for excellence can keep you afloat for a while, but it only goes so far. If the ship doesn’t get righted, it starts sinking. That’s the Steelers this week, who’ve proven they’re not a top 5 team in the NFL right now. And with a road trip to Kansas City on the horizon, their days in the top 10 could be numbered too.
10. Los Angeles Rams
Last Week: 7 (-3)
These aren’t Jeff Fisher’s Rams. His Rams teams routinely beat up the division rival Seahawks, even when few other teams could and even when they couldn’t beat up on anyone else. Now they’re kind of beating up on everyone but the Seahawks. After making a big jump last week, they fall back down a bit after losing one of their most important games of the season.
Last Week: 11 (+0)
Had things gone just a little differently at the end, the Bucs would have dropped the Patriots to 2-3. They get the benefit of the doubt this week, and stay put.
12. Buffalo Bills
Last Week: 10 (-2)
The scrappy underdog had to come back down to earth at some point, and so it went for the Bills as they fell to a resurgent Bengals squad. They’re still atop the AFC East, though, and so what’s more important is how Buffalo reacts to the Loss.
Last Week: 20 (+7)
The Jaguars have some quality wins and some really head-scratching losses. If their pattern through five weeks holds true, they’ll come off of a 29+ points scored, <10 points allowed performance on the odd numbered week and instead post a 20 or fewer point game while allowing 23+. That defense is becoming impressive, though, and any unit that can give Ben Roethlisberger cause to question his career is worth taking seriously.
Inconsistency and playing up and down to the opponent is a calling card of a young team that just needs experience and maturity. This probably isn’t Jacksonville’s year. They’ll screw up at just the wrong time and see their season end early. But next year? Or 2019? Watch out, because these guys will probably be making some noise- especially if they can find a competent QB.
14. Seattle Seahawks
Last Week: 17 (+3)
There’s the Seahawks team we all expect: holding a previously potent offense to just 10 points. 16 points wasn’t much of a score either, but it was enough. Still, the offensive line is a massive problem that will not go away anytime soon.
15. Dallas Cowboys
Last Week: 13 (-2)
That was a great, dramatic game. Unfortunately, one team had to lose. And when Aaron Rodgers does Aaron Rodgers things, that’s generally the other team taking the L. So it was in Dallas Sunday evening. The Cowboys go into their Bye week at just 2-3. They’ve lost to some very good teams, and beaten up lesser teams. But there’s reason for Cowboys’ fans to be worried: contenders should find ways to win, even against other contenders. So far, Jerry Jones’s crew is 0-3 in that sort of game.
Last Week: 16 (0)
Bye week. No movement.
17. Houston Texans
Last Week: 12 (-5)
Ouch. That’s just... ouch. Great game by the Texans, and great job keeping it decently competitive in the face of multiple crippling injuries. But the Texans’ chances of making postseason noise probably just rolled off on the cart beside J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus.
To put those two losses into perspective, imagine we’d had Shane Ray healthy to start this season to go with Von Miller and Shaquil Barrett. Now imagine that we lost both Von and Shaq for the season at practically the same time. Talk about a gut punch.
The Texans’ pass rush is fatally crippled. It’s going to expose their secondary. Deshaun Watson is probably a great pick up right now if he’s available in your fantasy league, because Houston’s sole route to victories is now via shootouts.
Last Week: 19 (+1)
The Vikings get a short bump up for the win over the Bears, but miss out on a more significant ranking correction due to the game just being too close for too long. Plus playing QB roulette is not a great look. Though it’s somewhat encouraging that Case Keenum outplayed both other QBs on the field. Sam Bradford may have tried to come back a week too early- but he’s probably feeling the heat after competent play by Keenum.
19. Baltimore Ravens
Last Week: 25 (+6)
20. Oakland Raiders
Last Week: 15 (-5)
The Raiders are mid-tailspin after dropping three games in a row. Derek Carr might be back this week against the Chargers, but is that premature? Especially considering Oakland’s offensive line troubles this season and the fact that Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa stand ready and eager to plow the Raiders down into the basement of the AFC West?
Well, maybe he’d be better off returning next week instead, when the Raiders host Kansas Cit... Oh. Hmm. Okay, then maybe the Week 8 game vs the Buffalo... yeah, no. Look out, folks. If Carr gets re-injured, or simply can’t perform up to his usual standard with the fractured back, this team could easily drop three more games to add to its current three consecutive losses. And a six game skid, including 3 AFC West losses, would be too much to recover from.
Last Week: 21 (0)
Bye week. No movement.
Last Week: 27 (+5)
Firing their offensive coordinator after just two games appears to have done the trick. Andy Dalton and the offense have been humming for the past couple of weeks. In an AFC North where the Ravens are badly flawed and the Steelers are looking mortal, the Bengals could be come-from-behind division champions when all is said and done.
23. Miami Dolphins
Last Week: 23 (0)
The Dolphins won, and that’s great. But Cutler is, well, Cutler. And the rest of the team is far from excellent. I think the win is pretty meaningless for the Dolphins, and meaningless wins don’t move you up the rankings.
24. Tennessee Titans
Last Week: 18 (-6)
This team is in a complete tailspin, and with Mariota out for a while a loss to the Dolphins means that upcoming games vs the Colts and Browns are by no means safe.
25. New York Jets
Last Week: 26 (+1)
The Jets are 3-2. They’re in 2nd in the AFC East over the Patriots for the second consecutive week, even if only by a tie-breaker. They’re also still trotting out a roster featuring more holes than swiss cheese.
Last Week: 28 (+2)
They won! They WON!!! Holy crap! Hey, everybody, the
San Dieg Los Angeles Chargers won a football game!
Last Week: 30 (+1)
They won. They beat the 49ers. The winless 49ers. In overtime. The Colts are 4th in the tightly packed AFC South due to tiebreakers, but unless Andrew Luck is utterly rust free and dominant when he finally returns, don’t expect them to make much noise.
Last Week: 26 (-2)
Just like the Steelers are a really bad 3-2, the Cardinals are a terrible 2-3. Without David Johnson, this team is lost. Upcoming contests vs the Bucs and Rams are very likely to land this team at 2-5 while Father Time patiently sinks nails into the coffin of Carson Palmer’s career.
29. New York Giants
Last Week: 22 (-7)
If there’s a silver lining for the Giants, it’s that Odell Beckham’s season-ending broken ankle will help ensure that their team remains strong contenders for the #1 overall pick. That’s a terrible thing to say, but the fact is that this team’s situation is exactly that dark. At 0-5, their season is over for any purpose that seeks a Super Bowl victory.
Especially considering that Brandon Marshall and Dwayne Harris are ending up on IR after their injuries as well. That’s 3 of the Giants’ top 4 wide receivers lost for the season during a single game. Sterling Shepard is now the best/top WR on the team.
So what’s on the horizon for the Giants? A respite from the storm, perhaps? A break? A rest? Any sign of hope? No. Instead, they get...
The Denver Broncos.
The Giants are coming to Denver, to play the team with the best home field advantage in the NFL. They’re bringing an “offseason elite” defense that’s only average against the pass and is terrible against the run. They’re bringing a 29th ranked rushing attack against the best run defense the NFL has seen in several years. They’re bringing a triage center with “Wide Receiver” scribbled on the door against the No Fly Zone. And they’re bringing an already hurt Eli Manning and a pathetic excuse for an offensive line against Von Miller, Shaq Barrett, Derek Wolfe, & company.
If I were Ben McAdoo, I’d hold Eli Manning out of this game for his own health & safety, because this is gonna be ugly. I anticipate they’ll be getting a second Dumpster Fire of the Week award next Tuesday, to go with this one:
30. Chicago Bears
Last Week: 29 (-1)
The Bears kept it surprisingly competitive against Minnesota, and normally I’d give them a nice bump for that when they’re already low in the rankings. However, regardless of how bad Mike Glennon has been, it was idiotic to trot Mitch Trubisky out there against the Vikings’ defense for his first real NFL action. And Trubisky’s results by and large reflect that mistake.
You don’t play a rookie QB against a defense like that for his first action- not when there’s an obvious choice already at hand. You’ll damage his confidence. Especially not in a season that’s already looking lost. But ol’ Foxy did it anyway.
John Fox is coaching himself out of a job in Chicago unless he can manage to string the organization along in the same way as his personal head coaching inspiration, Jeff Fisher.
Last Week: 31 (0)
Until they get into the Win column, this is home for the 49ers. That said, this team might not actually deserve to be this low. Why? Here’s a crazy stat for you: if they’d scored 15 more points across their last 4 games, this team could be 4-1 right now. They’ve lost their last two games to field goals kicked in over time, and have lost the last four games by 3 points, 2 points, 3 points, and 3 points.
There’s almost no chance this team will turn it around so sharply that they could reach the postseason. But that said, they’re a very thin margin away from a significantly more hopeful outlook in 2018.
32. Cleveland Browns
Last Week: 32 (0)
The Tale of Two Teams continued last night in their one regular season matchup: the Jets who were supposed to be tanking won, and the Browns who were supposed to be competing lost.
What’s next for the Browns? The NFL should put the poor dog out of its misery and just ship the team to London. That way the league gets their wish of moving a team there, and at the same time there’ll still not be a real NFL team in London anyway. Everybody wins.